A Day in Kula, Maui

Winter showed up on our doorsteps and has slapped everyone in the lower 48 states in the face in a big way. But in case you forgot, I went to Hawaii a little over a month ago and am still island dreaming. We spent most of the time in Paia, but set aside one of our days for traveling and sightseeing around Kula.

Maui is a big island and the roads don’t connect in ways you might assume, so we learned that it’s best to pick an area and spend the day there. We also learned that Kula had plenty to do for the day.

Lavender

We started our morning at Grandma’s Coffee House where we all wished we had saved breakfast for this local joint in the up-country of Maui. However, we did go for another cup of coffee and a pastry before starting for the next destination, the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm.

The lavender farm is on the outskirts of Haleakala Mountain, at an elevation high enough to see almost the entire west side of the island. It boasts 45 types of lavender and plenty of other botanical wonders and sights. We even saw a chameleon perched in a tree with tropical flowers.

hula dancers

From the lavender farm we traveled to Maui’s Winery at Tedeschi Vineyards where we enjoyed a tasting and purchased a few bottles of the unique pineapple wine. The hula circle of trees welcomes guests to the winery – an artist’s representation of the hula dancers who used to perform for King David Kalakaua when he visited the ranch. Across the street you’ll find the Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grill, where we ordered from the counter and sat on the porch for a relaxing lunch. I ordered the lamb burger, served with tzatziki sauce. The lamb, beef and elk are all local from the ranch and everything on the menu was as fresh as possible.

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Our next stop was the Surfing Goat Dairy, a local goat cheese farm. We opted out of the tour, but walked around the main area and tasted some of the goat cheese, and ordered goat cheese gelato and truffles.

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Finally, on to our final destination, Haleakala National Park to see the sunset. We had been told that you must see the sun set or rise from this view, but we had also been warned that the clouds or fog could make the almost two hour trip worthless. This particular day was a little cloudy and iffy with the rain, so we played it by ear but decided the drive to the top (more than 10,000 feet) was worth our time.

Driving up the views varied from spectacular to eerily surrounded by clouds. Once we reached the top, it felt like we were on another planet. You could no longer hear occasional birds or see any signs of life. The plants look like a mix between cactus and space creatures and the climate was rocky and desolate. Since the clouds covered the canyons, we saw what there was to see and began the descent down the mountain to catch the sunset.

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After exiting the park and traveling a few more miles down, we parked the car, spread out some beach towels, and watched the magical sunset over the island.

If you visit Maui, put a day aside and visit the Kula area. In the event that your weather is more stable that day, plan a hike or two through the park. But I definitely recommend our route – pack some towels, be flexible and make sure you have some time to see the sights!

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